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Data: S&P Global; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of bonds trading at distressed levels has continued to fall since the Fed stepped in with its QE infinity program and promise to buy hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate debt.

Why it matters: The recovery has disproportionately benefited sectors where the Fed has shown it is willing to intervene, as companies with weak credit ratings have issued far less debt this year and still face elevated default risk.

What's happening: The U.S. distress ratio — the percentage of speculative grade issuers trading 1,000 basis points above comparable Treasury yields — declined to 12.7% as of June 19 from 22.8% as of May 6, S&P Global reports.

  • S&P notes that investment-grade issuance has reached all-time highs this year, though issuance at the lower rating categories is still limited.

What they're saying: "The steep global recession and sudden and deep market dislocation have taken a heavy toll on speculative-grade issuers' revenues and access to funding sources," Sudeep Kesh, head of S&P Global Credit Markets Research, said in a note to clients.

  • "Due to central banks' and governments' rapid and sizable support programs, credit markets have since reopened, but access remains limited for riskier issuers rated 'B-' and below."
  • Oil and gas has the highest distress ratio of any sector at 40.2%, with $34.3 billion in distressed debt outstanding, or 29% of the total distressed debt, per S&P's data.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Oct 9, 2020 - Economy & Business

Investors position for more QE in Europe, but not in U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Bond yields are rising in the U.S. but falling in Europe as investors are betting on a new round of central bank policy divergence.

What's happening: Benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury yields are holding near their highest since early June. Yields jumped after minutes from the Fed’s September policy meeting did not mention plans to shift quantitative easing bond purchases toward longer-dated maturities, which many investors had been pricing in for months.

Texas Republicans pass new congressional maps in their favor

Photo: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Texas House voted 84-59 late Monday to approve new congressional district maps that reduce the number of districts with Black and Hispanic majorities, per the Texas Tribune.

Why it matters: The legislation comes after recent census figures found Texas' growing diverse population doesn't bode well for Republicans, who then worked to protect incumbents with the redrawn maps.

2 hours ago - World

North Korea's military fires another ballistic missile into sea

A woman in Seoul, South Korea, walks past a television image if North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea's military fired at least one ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast on Tuesday, per multiple reports.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.